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What To Expect If You Are Seeking Appointment as Guardian

Adult guardianship is an important, yet involved process.  Typically, a relative of an adult who seems to be unable to manage their own financial affairs and/or health care needs can be in need of a court-appointed guardian to assist them.

It is important to emphasize two requirements.  First, the person who can’t manage their affairs has to be declared by a judge to be an incapacitated person.  Second, the if the person appointed someone to be their financial agent via a valid power of attorney while they were still competent, there may not be a need for a court-appointed guardian.  This is also true if there is a valid health care proxy appointing an agent to make health care decisions for the now-incapacitated adult.

How the Process Works
If an adult seems to be in need of a guardian, the proposed guardian must petition the court to be appointed as guardian.  In New Jersey, the court requires two medical certifications from separate doctors stating in detail their finding of incapacity.  The court also requires the submission of a form statements as to the assets of the alleged incapacitated person.  There is usually a hearing, a finding of incapacity, and the guardian is appointed.

What Happens Next
A guardian appointed to manage the finances and health care of an incapacitated adult has a lot of work to do.  After being appointed, the guardian must inventory the assets of the incapacitated adult, and file that inventory with the court.  Thereafter, the guardian will be instructed to marshal the assets into bank accounts held as guardian of the incapacitated person, and obtain a surety bond.  The guardian will also have to visit the incapacitated person regularly and file annual reports regarding the assets and health care status of the incapacitated person.

Incapacity and guardianship are difficult matters to handle alone.  Feel free to contact my office for more information.